Syria aid convoys prepare to head to besieged areas

DAMASCUS, 17th February, 2016 (WAM) — Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid intended for besieged areas in Syria are expected to head out to five destinations in Syria on Wednesday as part of an agreement reached between Syrian authorities and a UN envoy who said it would be a “test” of the government’s intentions.

According to a report carried by AP, the Associated Press, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said that he has been trying to secure aid deliveries to improve the chances of restarting peace talks before the end of February, but that had been put on hold because of intense fighting north of Aleppo.

In Damascus on Tuesday, de Mistura suggested that humanitarian aid would be allowed into several besieged areas on Wednesday, calling it the “duty of the government of Syria.”

“Tomorrow we test this,” he said after meeting with Syria’s foreign minister. The UN later announced that the government of President Bashar Assad had approved access to seven such areas across the country and that convoys would head out in the coming days.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote back to de Mistura, saying “We do not wait for anyone to remind us of our duties toward our people. In fact, the Syrian government is the one that needs to test the credibility of the UN envoy.”

16 trucks were parked on the side of the road at the entrance to Damascus, waiting to leave for the besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadamiyeh near the capital.

According to the agreement, aid would be delivered to two communities in Idlib province in northern Syria that are currently besieged by rebels, and the convoys represent the third humanitarian aid delivery to the besieged communities after two similar efforts last month.

The UN estimates that 18 Syrian communities are besieged, affecting around half a million people.